How to care for your clothes
Resolving to make your wardrobe more sustainable this year? One of the best ways you can minimise the impact your clothes have on the environment is to look after them so that they can be worn for a lifetime. Being caught wearing the same outfit is no longer a faux pas, rather a sign of a woman that knows her own style and takes good care of the clothes she carefully chooses to invest in.
Here is our guide to keeping your wardrobe good as new, to get the most wear out of your most loved pieces.
Where most people come undone is in the washing phase. This is the biggest opportunity to improve your wardrobe’s sustainability rating for two reasons – the method that you chose to wash and it’s effect on the fabrics themselves.
Before anything you need to know your fabrics. If you have any man made materials, including preferred cellulose fibres like viscose, rayon and tencel, heat should be avoided at all costs as it can shrink or distort the material. Truthfully it is best to avoid heat even with natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and silk as while they cope with the warmth using heat in your washing cycle contributes far more emissions than using cold water.
When you’re ready to wash follow mum’s age old advice separating darks and lights as well as delicates. The best thing you can do for delicate garments or items made of fine fabrics like cotton voile, knits or silk is to hand wash… don’t worry it’s not as hard as you think. Get in the routine of filling a tub with cold water and a drop of eco-friendly detergent as you load up your machine with your everyday pieces. Leave delicates to soak just for 5 minutes, then give them a quick swirl and a rinse before laying flat to dry on a towel. An extra few minutes of care will get twice the life out of your garments.
The next thing to consider is how you hang or store your garments. A new year is the perfect time to refresh your wardrobe so that your clothes are stored correctly. Start by separating any out of season clothes and putting them in a box away from any moisture. Keeping them away from dust and light will keep them looking fresh for the new season.
Once you have cleared some room take note of how everything is placed – your delicates are best kept flat so that the light fabric isn’t distorted by hangers, t-shirts and knits should also be folded for the same reason. Jeans and pants can either be folded or hung draped over a hanger at the knees so that the waist isn’t distorted. Where possible, keep shoe boxes when you purchase new kicks so that you can keep them dust free and away from light to prevent discolouration.
Once everything is sitting pretty give all of the surfaces through your wardrobe a wipe down with non-toxic natural soap to remove any dust.
The final key to a sustainable wardrobe is to get savvy when it comes to mending your clothes. After all, clothes are made to be lived in so the inevitable spill or pull will happen eventually. When a button falls off or small hole appears, opt to repair rather than replace. A needle and thread will fix most things but if you’re not a savvy sewer speak to a skilled relative or local seamstress. Even garments that are ill fitting can be brought back into use with an adjustment here or there. So before you consider replacing that pair of jeans or jacket that isn’t fitting quite the way you would like, see if you can tweak a seam here or there to make them like new.